Lehigh pre-teen girls softball players determined to leave their mark
For two reasons, the Lehigh Acres Little League Softball Major All-Stars will be a dangerous opponent once tournament season starts – they have phenomenal pitching and the players have a serious chip on their shoulder.
Taylor Clayton, Jo Jo Kabala, Abby Means and Bailey Pate start their final year pitching in Majors as 12-year-olds, wanting to leave a major mark on District 18 and sectional competitions.
The chip on the shoulder comes from the belief other programs in Collier and Lee counties show minimal respect for Lehigh Acres softball.
“The girls feel because we’re from Lehigh Acres they are looked at differently but they’re all very proud,” said Stevan Guevara, vice president of Lehigh Acres Little League and head of the softball league.
“They all have a chip on their shoulder, seeking to prove Lehigh is competitive and even good despite drawing from a small area,” Guevara said. “We even hear because of our location others don’t want us to host a tournament.”
Lehigh Acres softball has been no stranger to success in recent years, winning three District 18 titles. The program lost in the sectionals to Cape Coral and Fort Myers respectively in the last two years.
“The girls form a core group of players that have been together since age seven,” Guevara said. “Their roadblock has been advancing out of Sectional competition.”
Guevara, who has daughters, Sariah, 12, and Sierra, 14, playing on Majors and Seniors teams, easily describes the four ace pitchers.
“Taylor is very strong, she has a 50-mph fastball and the other three are also good throwers, very competitive,” he said. “All four of them have pitching coaches so they are very serious about the game.”
“They’re excited and could carry us a long way once tournament season starts,” he said. “They have given up their summers the last two years preparing for this year.”
Honor roll, too
“What is even more impressive, they’re all honor roll students who spend extra time volunteering in the community.”
Guevara, who played in the Fort Myers and Tice Little League programs, has spent the last three years nurturing the Lehigh girls.
The league includes 120 girls playing at Williams Field on three Majors, three Minors and two Senior teams.
“I organize the league and then coach both of the teams my daughters play on, plus a travel softball team, so yes, I’m busy,” he said.
“We will also have a good bunch of Senior All-Stars that come together once high school season ends. They have the talent to go deep and make the state tournament.”